Karapatan on Duterte’s SONA: Same old anti-people policies, new and harsher priorities

President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, 2019. Parallel protest actions, attended by tens of thousands, were held within and outside the country. 

“For three more years, we will be confronted with the same ineffective and anti-people kill-kill-kill solution and policy framework of the Duterte government. Duterte peddles the same policies and initiatives that will result to further deaths, illegal arrests, torture and other forms of gross violations on the people’s civil and political rights. It is the same tactic of fear mongering and warmongering to justify repression and militarism,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay. She also assailed the militarist bills that the President has mentioned as priorities, including his marching orders to pass the death penalty measures, his drug war and counterinsurgency program, the mandatory ROTC bill, among others.
“We did not expect anything, but the usual reaffirmation of militarist and fascist policies, as well as the misogynist slurs and cursing that has been the hallmark of Duterte’s speeches. In a sea of lawmakers and law enforcers, nobody brings up the recently signed “Bawal Bastos” law, which penalizes misogynistic and sexist remarks, even as the President openly violates this. This is emblematic of the double standard and impunity in the country, as well as how far the country has gone to the dogs,” added Palabay.

She also criticized Duterte for prioritizing the butchers and human rights violators, at the expense of their victims and the Filipino people: “He was practically kissing the boots of uniformed men, whose loyalty is worth more than his mandate to serve the people. Duterte is acting as if his only constituents are soldiers, putting their demands first. This is truly indicative of who this government is for. The rest of the Filipino people who toil every day remain neck-deep in poverty, exploitation, and repression.”

The Karapatan official also downplayed Duterte’s reliance on surveys: “Surveys are easily manipulated, and can be commissioned by the rich and powerful who want to influence public opinion and make it seem that something (or someone) is still favorable and accepted. The same social research institutions released results on public clamor to regain China-occupied islands in our territory, public refusal to accept the PNP’s nanlaban narrative in the drug war, the increase of Filipinos who rated themselves as poor and public opinion on allowing the UN to probe EJKs in relation to the sham drug war. This contradiction reveals turmoil, a declining trust in the government’s policies, and confutation of these so-called satisfactory ratings.”

Palabay insisted that the real state of the nation is that of state terrorism, irreparable loss, widespread injustice, and gross impunity. According to Karapatan, it has documented 266 victims of extrajudicial killings in line with the Duterte regime’s counterinsurgency programs Oplan Kapayapaan and Kapanatagan, on top of the thousands reported in line with Duterte’s sham drug war. The rights group also recorded 404 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 1,850 victims of illegal arrests, 134 tortured, 443 victims of illegal search and seizure, and 451,323 victims of forcible displacement. Palabay explained that these violations are a direct result of the implementation of Duterte’s counterinsurgency programs – from Oplan Kapayapaan to Oplan Kapanatagan. This is alongside the thousands more victimized by this government’s anti-narcotics drive.

“Duterte’s SONA is reflective of a regime that will continue towards a path of repression and subservience, even adding harsher policies into the mix. He has spent 15 minutes to defend his lousy and cowardly stance in the West Philippine Sea issue, proving he is at the defensive but will push forward with his loyalty to the Chinese. He is at the side of thieves, criminals, butchers, the Chinese, the Americans – all except at the side of the Filipino people,” concluded Palabay.